Charles Kenny: The 'Red Dawn' Case for Cutting U.S. Defense Spending
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Thomas Jefferson Was More Than a Man of His Times: "[B]eautiful writing reflecting a clarity of thought and understanding that I have rarely encountered in Jefferson's contemporaries, or beyond, writing about the problem of slavery…. When people say Jefferson was merely a 'man of his times' they sell him short. I don't mean this as some sort of rhetorical jiu-jitsu. I find myself quoting [Jefferson's] words when trying to explain slavery's problems. What Jefferson, the man, did doesn't make these words any less meaningful. At some point we are going to have to develop something beyond an infantile desire to know whether Daddy was a 'good guy' or a 'bad guy'. In fact, Daddy was an avowed white supremacist, whose words help inspire the black freedom movement. Daddy was an American slave-holder to the end, who brilliantly elucidated the moral and practical problem of American slavery. Daddy railed against miscegenation, while practicing it."
Charlie Demerjian: The Doom of Microsoft: http://semiaccurate.com/2012/11/14/microsoft-has-failed/
Mark Thoma sends us to Paul Krugman: "President Obama has done something very cruel… refused to lay out a proposal reflecting what he thinks Republicans want. Instead, he has demanded that Republicans themselves say, explicitly, what they want. And guess what: They can’t or won’t do it. No, really. While there has been a lot of bluster from the G.O.P. about how we should reduce the deficit with spending cuts, not tax increases, no leading figures on the Republican side have been able or willing to specify what, exactly, they want to cut…"
Robert Skidelsky: Inequality is killing capitalism: "Demand for credit, rather than supply, is the crucial economic driver… Banks are bound to lend on adequate collateral; and, in the run-up to the crisis, rising house prices provided it. The supply of credit, in other words, resulted from the demand for credit…. It was not so much predatory lenders as it was imprudent, or deluded, borrowers, who bear the blame. So the question arises: Why did people want to borrow so much? Why did the ratio of household debt to income soar to unprecedented heights in the pre-recession days? Let us agree that people are greedy, and that they always want more than they can afford. Why, then, did this “greed” manifest itself so manically? To answer that, we must look at what was happening to the distribution of income…"
John Dupre on Thomas Nagel: "The starting point of Nagel's strategy is that if the general reductionist project is to be successful, then it must be shown how consciousness/cognition/value can be integrated into the materialist worldview. Prima facie these things are not material. The materialist story about how material came to possess these entities or qualities is evolution. So if evolution cannot account for consciousness/cognition/value, it is fatally injured…. The case of cognition…. Nagel thinks that reason gives us insights into reality that evolution cannot account for. Whereas perception gives us a view of the world mediated by a 'mental effect' that it causes in me, something that emerged to serve my evolutionary interests, reason gives me direct, unmediated insight into the world…. These are deep waters…. I will only repeat that we have surely not been offered anything harder to deny than the general truth of evolution…"
Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Myth Of Jefferson As 'A Man Of His Times':: "A predictable defense of Thomas Jefferson comes up comments: 'It's worth noting that TJ was warped up in a economic system of which no alternative was readily available. Only a single slave owning founding father freed his slaves, Washington in his will.' As is pointed out in subsequent comments this claim, while convenient, is false…. Jefferson lived at a time when it was relatively common to manumit slaves…. Jefferson's cousin John Randolph…. Jefferson's protege Edward Coles--knowing of Jefferson's brilliant anti-slavery writings--wrote to enlist him in the cause of ridding Virginia of slavery. Coles thought to begin this effort by manumitting his own slaves. Jefferson not only declined to help Coles, but told him he was wrong to try to free his own…. Edward Coles ignored Thomas Jefferson's advice, instead becoming the anti-Thomas Jefferson and living up to his word…. Edward Coles doesn't deserve to be forgotten merely to redeem Jefferson."
Boathouse Tiverton RI
Felix Salmon: How insurance improves living standards: "It comes as no surprise to find that Alan Greenspan is wrong…. [I]f you think for a moment about the logical implications of what Greenspan is saying here, they’re truly horrific. Imagine a world where the Japanese government did not insure its population against extremely low probability events like the recent earthquake — this is Greenspan’s example, not mine. The toll of death and suffering in one of the richest countries in the world, which was catastrophically high to begin with, would soar, and the Japanese government, through inaction, would be killing thousands of its own citizens, in a heartless and entirely avoidable decision. Meanwhile, the broader Japanese economy would suffer much more greatly than it already is…. [T]he Japanese government doesn’t need to be 'pressed' to save its citizens’ lives in the event of a disaster; that’s its job. What’s more, the second part of Greenspan’s thesis is equally incoherent, if not quite as morally monstrous…"
Prairie Weather: We're in trouble out here: "In Texas, drier conditions are favored in association with a negative PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation). Therefore, odds favor persistence for the areas of drought in eastern and southern Texas, and two areas of developing drought were introduced in central and south-central Texas…"
Daniel Kuehn: Facts & other stubborn things: Jefferson was a nasty sonofabitch: [W]hile there's quite a bit we don't like about Jefferson there is a lot to like about Jeffersonianism - that special brand of American liberalism that belongs to Jefferson as genuinely as his slave ownership does. There's certainly a lot I like about Jeffersonianism…"
Steve M.: "If you'd like to persuade a skeptic that political insider journalism must be destroyed… all the evidence you need is contained in an article by McKay Coppins that was just posted on BuzzFeed: 'How Bobby Jindal Got His Mojo Back In 2012'.… [H]ave you seen any evidence that Bobby Jindal actually has 'mojo'? Even if you thought he once had some, do you believe he's gotten it back? Now move on to the photo accompanying the article. Does this photo say "presidential mojo" to you? Yes, that's Jindal with Rick Perry -- by common consent the worst presidential candidate of 2012, and one of the worst ever. And the photo matches the article's content. You see, according to Coppins, associating with Perry has done excellent things for Jindal…"
ndm lees: "Gellner sees production, coercion and legitimation as the… primary sources of social power…. Groups and individuals specialise in/monopolise control over one of these three areas, resulting in a division of labour between those castes who live by the plough, those who live by the sword, and those who live by the book…. A large part of the focus of the book is on the transition between three epochs: hunter-gatherer society, agrarian society, and industrial society… what sets PSB apart from other works of historical sociology is the detail and sophistication of Gellner’s discussion of the transition between different modes of cognition within different epochs. This is something which Tilly, Skocpol, Arrighi and so on don’t focus upon…. Via the theological doctrines of the agrarian era, which Gellner insists were an essential waypoint on the journey, contemporary individuals have come to occupy a radically different cognitive universe from that of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. PSB is a fascinating work because it tries to combine an analysis of classes, industrialism, ideology and the nation-state with a rich thesis about the historical development of human consciousness that draws heavily on cultural anthropology…"